A Quick Re-Cap

Assassin’s Creed, for better or worse, has been a prominent IP in the video games industry. When people describe new games from Ubisoft, they often remark that it’s an “Ubisoft game.” Which meant that that it was a game with an open world, collectibles, towers, and other various tasks associated in the publishers library. Assassin’s Creed became a monster franchise for the publisher after Assassin Creed II. The sequel became so successful that they extended the sequel into a trilogy known as the Ezio saga. Ezio, the Italian Assassin, even made an appearance in Soul Calibur V, which shows the wide reach of this franchise! Assassin’s Creed II took place in Italy and several of its sequels re-used assets while also adding a couple of new game modes and features.

Ubisoft has made very clear that it will continue to make new Assassin’s Creed games until oblivion because it was a stellar hit that players kept buying. We saw Assassin’s Creed games on various platforms including mobile and handheld systems. In case you have never played an Assassin’s Creed game, they’re open world action games where the player plays as an assassin in their respective time period. Time periods often take place in various locations such as the Middle East, Renaissance Italy, Colonial America etc. Your goal as the player is to stop an evil organization known as the Templars, who have been at war with the Assassin’s for decades. Several games in the series will follow a basic story about the current assassin’s predicament, his involvement in the Templar-Assassin war, and a Piece of Eden. What is a Piece of Eden? [Spoiler Warning]

[Spoiler Start] The Pieces of Eden are mystical items left behind by an advance race of humanoids with superior technology who were wiped out by a catastrophe. The Assassins and Templars have been fighting to control as many Pieces of Eden in order to rule and dominate the world. The series has always made a point to use the present as a vessel to tell this story, following a modern protagonist as they “dive” into their ancestor’s time period through a machine known as the Animus. The Animus allows users to experience their ancestors lives that is written in his or her DNA. Convolution and bad sci-fi storytelling aside, the series is beloved by fans around the world because of the attention to detail in each location and time period. [Spoiler End]

Each Assassin’s Creed game is similar to its previous entry but always tries to achieve or present a new mechanic or take on the formula. For example, Assassin’s Creed III introduced free running through trees and allowed players to hunt animals for crafting armor or weapons. Often these popular features get refined and perfected across several games, like Assassin’s Creed: Liberation and Black Flag.

This dedication to quality, paired with a fresh era and hero in each iteration, has contributed to the Assassin’s Creed series selling millions of copies around the world year after year. Four of the first six Assassin’s Creed titles sold over 10 million copies, but sales have been underwhelming for the last two installations. Call of Duty still sells massively well, even if their numbers aren’t what they use to be. Ubisoft made a yearly franchise with each iteration selling relatively well. The Assassin’s Creed franchise is a good comfort food game; it changes just enough to be new and exciting but stays mostly the same. This hasn’t always been the narrative, though. It all changed in 2014, when Unity released on current gen systems.

Assassin’s Creed Unity released in a broken state that soured fans of the series and casual players alike. The infamous floating eyeballs and teeth images still plague the internet, highlighting one of the game’s several problems. Unity was a good game after several fixes and patches, but the damage had been done. This damage is most noticeable in the sales of its successor: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

Syndicate was a good game overall, with solid review scores, great mission variety, and the introduction of its first mainline female assassin. Assassin Creed Syndicate improved a lot of old systems and mechanics that the series is known for. However, sales for Syndicate were low and the performance and quality of Unity left a bitter taste in player’s mouths. This was made apparent when Ubisoft announced, for the first time ever, that the series would take an extra year off and “re-examine” the franchise as a whole.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

Leaks of where the series was going next stared happening before E3 of 2017: Egypt! Assassin’s Creed manage to get an extra year to develop and work on a brand new entry to the series that would look vastly different than previous iterations. At the Microsoft Press Conference we saw the first game-play footage of Assassin’s Creed Origins.

The franchise revealed intentions to re-invent what it meant to be an assassin by exploring ancient Egypt, and to see how the Assassins became a force of good. In many ways Origins looks amazing and more beautiful than either Unity or Syndicate, even though it’s still running on the same tech. Ubisoft took great care and incorporated feedback of what it wanted to change and achieve with Assassin’s Creed Origins by implementing new game-play changes and re-defining missions as quests:

  • Players will no longer need to rely on towers or eagle visions to unlock points on the map. Instead, Bayek(The Main Protagonist) will have a trusty eagle companion that will survey the land and scout for interesting locales. Origins encourages the player to explore the world and Ubisoft Montreal develops this point further by getting rid of the mini-map in favor of a compass system similar to games like Skyrim and Fallout.
  • Combat becomes more intricate and intense when compared to the button-smashing techniques of previous entries. The player will have to dodge, block, parry, weave and attack hulking guards and fight mobs of enemies. These combat changes will help players feel challenged and add an extra layer of complexity that previous Assassin’s Creed games were lacking.
  • Soft RPG elements and a loot system are being added to give players more customization over their characters. Bayek will be able to gain skills and abilities by leveling up with experience earned through combat or quests. Enemies and treasure chests will carry loot with a rarity system, from common weapons to legendary items. Adding these elements will give players a better sense of progression, and loot systems are more popular than ever in main stream AAA games.
  • Ubisoft Montreal focused on designing a thriving world and quests that aren’t just mindless busy work. It seems like they’ve taken inspiration from games like Witcher III: Wild Hunt by having the player stumble across situations and quests.

Assassin’s Creed Origins is certainly shaping up to be a step in the right direction by introducing several mechanics to the series. Ubisoft is taking great care and strides to make sure that their franchise sells well. Egypt is a great location to explore, with a vast, rich history and architecture. Origins focusing on player progression, exploration, and combat are great indicators for the franchise to return to its former glory. Also, since there hasn’t been an a game since Syndicate in 2015, people are willing to jump back in with a newly invigorated appetite.

This is one of the few cases in which people voted with their wallets and prompted change within a big publisher. The gaming landscape is vast, and there are several games on which people can spend their money. We’ll see this holiday season how Origins stacks up against the competition with other AAA contenders like Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Super Mario Odyssey, and Star Wars: Battlefront II.